Do you need to have this level of detail mapped out for your own style in order to live a happy life? Definitely not! But for anyone interested, here’s my breakdown of my current style preferences.
Just the pictures. Retro-casual is the most recent one I’ve been moving into, and as such is not quite as refined. Airtable is more flexibly viewed on a desktop browser.
|Style||Inspiration Board (Pinterest)||Items (Airtable)||Outfits (Airtable)|
|Storybook||storybook inspo||storybook items||selected outfits|
|Witchy||witchy/boho-goth inspo||witchy items||selected outfits|
|Vaguely Retro Casual||retro casual inspo||retro casual items||selected outfits|
Elements of “Storybook” Style
That phrase which you will see thrown around on this site is a bit vague! I just couldn’t think of a better, succinct descriptor. I mostly like to try and dress in this style, although I do foray into vaguely gothy/witchy styles (pinterest board) and vaguely 70s/80s/90s inspired casual styles (pinterest board), some combination of these, or if I’m not feeling any of them, just whatever.
Anyway, “storybook style” is low-fuss looks with vintage-inspired silhouettes, fall colors, and witchy details. It’s romantic and earthy but not too bohemian. I have an actively-edited inspiration board for it on Pinterest.
For resources to help curate your own wardrobe, see the Style Resources page. This is the second ‘style phase’ I’ve been in since I started focusing on clothes around 2016. Previously I was into minimal witchy looks and wore a lot of black and gray knitwear and loose silhouettes.
I’m very into earth tones and colors that remind me of autumn leaves. I primarily have items in burnt orange, olive and spruce greens, rust, tan, cream, and black.
I have the odd item outside these colors, but I find that generally keeping to a limited palette makes it a lot easier to make visually cohesive outfits.
Of course I have pieces that don’t fit into these categories, but these are items that I feel are important to the overall aesthetic of my wardrobe. I’ve definitely been more drawn to bottom items as the focus of outfits.
- Knit tops (especially sweaters with chunky/textured knits)
- A-line midi skirts
- High-waisted trousers (specifically the “peg pants” style)
- Ankle boots with 5″-6″ shafts
- Hats (Specifically vintage-y hats like wool panama hats or berets. Admittedly I don’t wear these super often because they don’t mesh with my commute very well.)
- Witchy jewelry (pieces with a bohemian aesthetic featuring botanical, celestial, eyeball, hand, snake, owl, etc motifs)
Getting round wire-frame retro style glasses (mine are the Warby Parker low nose bridge women’s “Milton” frames, which sadly have been discontinued) and bangs has also made a big impact on my look. The thin, light colored frames open up my face and the round shape goes well with the straighter line introduced by the bangs. I think both work towards the “vaguely vintage” component of the aesthetic I strive for.
In order to keep to a “vaguely vintage” aesthetic, I try to stick to a semi-structured look and items that don’t have any elements that are stereotypically modern (21st century) or futuristic, such as sneakers or technical fabrics. I do keep to most current macro trends e.g. pants rise, general skirt shapes, boot shape, but within that I generally prefer details with a more vintage feel, like buttons vs zippers, sweaters vs sweatshirts. (I do obviously have a puffer jacket, appropriate hiking gear, workout gear, etc, but this is a guiding principal for my fashion-y outfit wardrobe.)
Generally, I aim to look polished but not formal. Most of my outfit items fall somewhere in the smart casual spectrum, but I love accessories and totally don’t mind wearing earrings, a watch/bracelet, multiple rings, a necklace, a belt, fancy socks, and a hat, and a scarf in a single outfit (though tbh this particular convergence of peak accessorizing rarely happens). Some styling choices I usually go with are:
- Earrings + rings every day.
- Minimal makeup, hair, and nails – this is mostly because I’m not currently interested in dedicating myself to any more maintenance here. I think a bright lip, updo, or waves would look great with a lot of my outfits. I am trying this year to wear a red lip and minimal makeup more frequently because I always enjoy it, but this is a secondary concern to my clothes. Update: I did a whole post about makeup here: A tangent into beauty blogging: How I apply makeup for my monolided, glasses-wearing, bangs-framed face and personal style
- Skewing towards bottom-heavy silhouettes.
- Working on including at least one item with visual interest (e.g. knitwear with visible texture, an item with a statement silhouette, necklaces) in each outfit and avoid wearing head-to-toe items that could also work for pajamas or gym wear. Not that there’s anything wrong with athleisure, but personally I feel happier and more inclined to do things if I have outfits that are a bit dressier.
- Aiming not to look frumpy, though I don’t always aim to wear the most conventionally flattering combination of items every time I get dressed. I love a high-waisted A-line skirt with a fitted and tucked in top and heels, but I also enjoy a thoughtful loose-loose silhouette or an outfit that just looks like you could do things comfortably in it.
Making sure everything fits is a key part of the “polished” part of the “polished casual” I’m aiming for. I’m 5’1″, so that means
- browsing petites sections (ASOS, an online-only EU-based fast fashion retailer, has a huuuuge petites section, and Nordstrom’s selection is respectable. Both have free shipping and returns.)
- getting pants hemmed and coat sleeves taken up or
- buying items that look good with sleeves or pant legs cuffed, and
- looking for cropped items that will turn out as normal length on me.
I will note on my Instagram posts when items have been tailored. I could definitely get a lot more small tailoring things done, especially getting waists of pants taken in, but at this point I don’t care enough about the remaining items to muster the activation energy required to go to the local tailor on the one hour a week I am available to drop in when they’re open.
Inspiration / Aspiration
Some of my favorite accounts for direct fashion inspiration on Instagram are @closetvomitfashion and @jerianie. I love the vintage but very modern styling (she’s based in NYC) that Ashley of Closet Vomit does. Jerianie also has a wonderful color palette and inspiring forest backgrounds (she’s based in Finland). For more 70s flavor vintage, I love @florencemayvintage‘s cheery sunflower colored looks and headbands. @whatbeckywore is great for styling inspiration for more casual and on-trend basics. She does a lot of cute-and-a-little-bit-punk looks.
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question time! if you could go back in time to a decade or date what would it be and why? What would you do there and where would you go? Would you want to go back and meet anyone in particular? ✨ I would love to go back to the 1970s and go to BIBA and basically buy all the clothes & probably go to some festivals. Or I would love to go back to the 1930s and meet Frida Kahlo and travel around Mexico. I’d love to hear what you’d do & where you’d go and when? 👇🏼💛🌼
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This is my “I can’t feel my face” face — it’s been a mad cold week here and I’m torn between excited and terrified! Excited because yay autumn! 🍁 And terrified because nayyy after autumn comes winter 😩 Is it still warm where you live? 🍂 #finland #autumn #autumncolors #fallcolors #quietinthewild #aseasonalshift #naturelovers #liveauthentic #vintageinspired #autumnfashion #秋 #秋コーデ #自然 #紅葉 #森林浴 #ヴィンテージ #今日のコーデ // culottes from @princesshighwayclothing 🍂
I also enjoy following historical fashion and fashion museum accounts (like the Museum at FIT, the Met Costume Institute, or the Bata Shoe Museum) as well as some more fantasy/costume themed ones like @catinawitchhat and @ixdoxdeclare, and the odd designer (@irisvanherpen and @alexandermcqueen are favorites), although the inspiration there is less “steal the closet” and more for visual enrichment and inspiration to add more detail, texture, color, etc. The only big Instagram influencer I’ve been into is @colormecourtney. Her posts are just so much fun to see, even if I don’t take direct inspiration from them.
For a list of non-career-instagrammer outfit diary accounts in the same vein as mine that I enjoy reading for styling process food-for-thought, see the Style Resources page.
As for the direction I’m trying to take my current aesthetic, I’m generally hoping to push it in a more fun direction by making more outfits that feel like a storybook character outfit a la the costuming in Pushing Daisies show (RIP), Fantastic Beasts movies, or any plethora of historically inspired / fantastical media. I noticed I have a lot more fun when I’m wearing more extra outfits, and I think this is a nice framework to work in that also isn’t overly specific. That being said, I also plan to keep things toned down enough to not look like I’m literally on my way to a costume party when I’m going to work.
Another concept I’ve found inspiring was a list for “what makes a place magical”, written by James Talbot for the development of the Casa Neverlandia art house. I think a lot of it is also applicable to a wardrobe (many thanks to u/weph for sharing the list on reddit) or any area of visual design, really. Lots of good food for thought around how to enrich an outfit in different ways.
I live near San Francisco, so for 90% of the year, the weather is between 45F and 85F. However, I walk and take public transit everywhere, so I need comfortable shoes and generally don’t go for anything too fussy. I work in a “wear what you want within reason” office where it’s common to see people in sweatpants and house slippers next to people in business casual. I don’t have any kids or pets.
I’m not a hardcore minimalist, but I do share a ~400 sq ft apartment with my boyfriend, so I limit what clothes I have out so that I don’t end up with piles of clothes tumbling off of every surface.
What’s actually in my closet? How do I wear it?
See items I’ve worn recently including brands and wear counts at the following links (I would embed these directly on this page, but I’m on a WordPress plan that doesn’t support plugins). These are views into my Airtable base that I use to keep track of my wardrobe. Learn more at the Wardrobe Tracking page. These views are easier to work with on desktop, where you can zoom in and out of the browser to adjust how many tiles you can see at once. (hold down cmd or ctrl key while then hitting the + or – key)
These are only my “outfit” items, currently hovering around 225 pieces including all accessories like jewelry, though not including underwear and plain socks. I also have an additional ~60 pieces that are loungewear and activewear which I don’t track as part of outfits and don’t have photos of.
It’s a lot of stuff! I am in the process of paring down a bit because having more breathing space in a small apartment is nice, but I’m of the philosophy that if you have space for your stuff and actually wear it, then that’s totally fine. There isn’t like, a magic holy number of pieces that you need to get to.
- A spreadsheet-like view of my Current Wardrobe items including fields for size, price, general notes, brand, fabric, color, temperature bucket(s) it’s suited for, various wear count statistics (per month and year, wear rate, cost-per-wear), various fields for ease of filtering items (style category, whether it was worn in the past 30 days, whether it’s an accessory or clothing item, etc)
- Item Gallery All items, which you can filter manually by category, tag, etc, but I also have pre-filtered views below:
This public read-only view is not all my outfits ever, just the ones I liked. I have things tagged as “liked”, “favorite”, and “ultrafavorite”. You can filter and sort by the visible fields, e.g. filter to all outfits whose items contain the phrase “midi skirt” or “sneakers”, or whose occasion is “work”.
You can view all my outfits including ones I didn’t like so much on my Instagram. I like keeping them in airtable because then I can add tags and do things like view all outfits where I wore some particular item.